Smith, Aaron: Calls grow for Australia’s frontier wars to be remembered on Anzac Day

Aaron Smith

Calls grow for Australia’s frontier wars to be remembered on Anzac Day‘, Guardian Australia, 25 April 2023 updated

Update 26 April 2023: Anzac Day and the Frontier Wars discussed in other articles: ‘Should Frontier War heroes like Windradyne be recognised on ANZAC Day?‘; ‘Anzac Day sees greater acknowledgment of Indigenous soldiers‘.


First Nations people in Cairns have commemorated the Frontier Wars for the last seven Anzac Days. ‘It is very important for us to meet on that day to remember what went on in the war that was in this country first’, [Gimuy Walubara Yidinji elder Theresa] Dewar says. ‘It involved our ancestors, it involved the early settlers, and it was on both sides.’

Aboriginal Tent Embassy founder, Michael Ghillar Anderson, says: ‘I think it’s essential that the frontier wars are formally recognised and commemorated as part of Anzac Day. If we are going to reconcile this country, the good and bad, we need to make these changes and acknowledge these wrongdoings.’

Professor Greg Lehman, the pro vice-chancellor of Aboriginal leadership at the University of Tasmania, is descended from the Trawulwuy people of the state’s north-east. He says it is important to acknowledge the Frontier Wars in a non-tokenistic way.

Finally, Neville Reys, a Gimuy Walubara Yidinji traditional owner from North Queensland, points out that ‘the Frontier Wars share a lot in common with other conflicts remembered on 25 April’.

To him the frontier wars represent “the horrific trauma, scarring, mental issues, physical issues, the displacements, dispossession, everything that has occurred to Indigenous people, which was tenfold within a war situation”.

“This is the same outcome that would exist in any war,” he said. “Whether it’s Gallipoli, Afghanistan, anywhere, anytime, it’s all exactly the same.

“While we are walking towards this whole truth process, I think the frontier wars have to be recognised on Anzac Day.”

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